As they walked into the waiting room, the receptionist called out before they had a chance to approach the window.
"Dr. Stone is expecting you. Please come with me. Oh, and here," handing him a clipboard, "you can fill out this form while you wait for him."
She led Cory and Richard down a hall to an examining room. As she closed the door behind them, she looked over at Cory. She had a look that could kill when she saw the bruises on his cheeks. Richard glared at her, upset that she seemed to think he was responsible.
Cory was quiet while they waited, although he kept pacing the room looking at the posters on the walls telling him not to smoke or what a liver looks like.
Within ten minutes Dr. Henry Stone walked in. His portly stature in his white coat and graying hair gave him an aura of trustworthiness and competence. He reached out toward Richard and shook his hand.
"Good to see you, Richard. How's business been?"
"It's actually been pretty good the last two years, but it's been a little boring. My retirement looks pretty good, too."
"Sounds great. Now, I guess this is the face that I've got to look at. You must be Cory," turning to face the boy.
"Cory, meet Dr. Stone. Dr. Stone, this is Cory Anderson."
"Nice to meet you Cory," Dr. Stone remarked.
"Same here, Mr. Stone, uh, Dr. Stone."
Chuckling, Dr. Stone said, "Have a seat on the table here and let's have a look."
Richard had known Dr. Henry Stone for almost twenty years, and he had been his physician for the last ten years. Dr. Stone liked practicing family medicine as opposed to specializing. He was a strong believer in the healing power of families.
After a few minutes, the doctor looked up at Cory.
"Cory, I think I'd like to get an x-ray of your cheek bone and jaw. I don't think you have a fracture, but I just want to make sure."
He led Cory out of the room and as he went through the door he turned to Richard and said,
"Please wait. I need to talk to you a little bit more, alone."
Richard knew. He waited for Dr. Stone to return knowing exactly what he was going to say. Ten minutes later, Dr. Stone walked back into the room without Cory, closing the door rather slowly. The doctor looked serious.
"Who did this?" the doctor demanded. "That boy has been beaten by someone, and I don't think it was another teenager. God, I hope it wasn't you."
"No, it wasn't me. For God's sake, Henry, you know me better than that! I think his father did it, but I only have Cory's side of the story."
"Did you see his back?"
"I was concerned about his cheek and jaw, but I wanted to check him over for any other bruises. When he took his shirt off, I saw his back."
"What about it? What's wrong with his back?"
"That boy's been abused Richard. He has welts on both sides of his back. There's also scarring that tells me that this has been going on for some time. If his father did this, he drew blood."
"I only saw his face. I didn't know about anything else. How bad is it, Henry?"
"Oh, Cory will heal. He'll get better and probably with no permanent physical damage if he keeps away from whatever or whoever caused this. I'm not too sure about any emotional damage."
After a short pause, Henry softly said, "You know I have to report this." It was a statement, not a question.
"I know. But how long can you hold off?"
"I can't Richard. That boy needs to get away from whoever did this."
Dr. Stone paused for a moment; eyes directed at Richard.
"Where is Cory staying now? Is he going back to his father?" he then asked.
"He stayed with me last night, but I'm not too sure what to do with him now. I need some time to think, and maybe talk to Mark. You know I need his legal help on this one."
"What are you thinking, Richard?" questioned the doctor.
"I want to find out about getting Cory away from his father. But I want to do it right, so it doesn't backfire on me. From what I know about him, I think he's a good kid. But right now, that kid needs help, Henry, our help."
"Well, if he's staying with you, than I guess I can be sure that this won't happen at your place. But eventually, Cory has to go back to his father unless that man's put away for the crimes, I believe he's already committed or if Child Services steps in. You keep me informed of what's happening to Cory. If there's a chance that he's going back to that man, I will step in. However, I'll give you a day or so to work something out with Mark. I'll file my report then. You've got two days, Richard. I can't hold off any longer."
"Thanks, Henry. I'll let you know what Mark has to say."
Cory returned and Dr. Stone left them to wait for the x-rays to be developed.
"What'd you talk about while I was gone?" Cory asked Richard as soon as Dr. Stone had closed the door.
"We talked about where you got your bruises. He also told me that this has been going on for awhile. Last night was not the first time that this happened to you, is it?"
Cory didn't answer, just standing in front of Richard, looking at him.
Minutes later, the door swung open, and Dr. Stone walked in with an x-ray in his hand. He showed it to Richard and Cory, explaining that there were no fractures, and that Cory could go after he wrote a prescription for pain killers in case Cory had trouble moving his jaw while eating or talking and an antibiotic cream for the cuts on his back.
Dr. Stone and Richard shook hands and made another date for golf for the following week.
As they left the back-office area and returned to the waiting room, the receptionist asked for the form back. Richard handed it to her and turned to leave.
She looked at the form, but her attention went quickly back to Richard. She called out after him.
"What's the name of the patient? You didn't put it down here."
Richard shot a look back to her.
"Cory, Cory Mathews."
Cory's body jolted as he heard this. He wondered what in the hell Richard had meant when he used his own last name with Cory's. Cory knew that Richard wasn't his father. Having a father again was a dream Cory knew was never to come true for him.
When Cory and Richard got back in the car, Richard was agitated. He started the engine, looked directly at Cory for a moment and instead of driving away, picked up his cell phone and entered a number. Richard was calling his attorney, Mark Lingstrom. After a moment of waiting for the phone to be answered, he spoke.
"Hello. Is Mark there?"
"This is Richard Mathews."
"Hello Mark. Listen. Can I see you today? It's very important, Mark."
"I know, Mark. I know, but this is really important."
"Okay. I'll see you then."
Richard flipped the cell phone closed and turned toward Cory.
"Listen, Cory. I'm going over to see my attorney. I want you to stay at home until I get back, okay?"
"What's this about? Are you still trying to get me back to my dad?"
"No! If I have anything to say about it, you'll never have to go back there. You just relax while I try to figure out what to do."
"Cool," was all that Cory said but he gazed at Richard for a while. He didn't know what this adult was up to. He sure didn't trust him totally yet.
Richard dropped Cory off back at his house, made sure he knew how to work the TV remote, knew where the soda was, and then he headed out the door. Richard was on a mission.
Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]
* Some browsers may require a right click instead